WASHINGTON—The former and current owners and operators of a chemical facility in Addyston, Ohio, LANXESS Corp. and INEOS ABS USA Corp., have agreed to pay a $3.1 million civil penalty and INEOS will spend up to $2 million to install environmental controls and modify operating procedures to resolve violations of multiple environmental laws, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.
The settlement resolves a complaint filed by the United States and the state of Ohio alleging violations of the Clean Air Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.
"We are pleased that this settlement requires INEOS to go beyond compliance and take immediate steps to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants. The reductions will produce real health benefits for the people of Ohio," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"This settlement is an excellent example of state, local and federal agencies working together to improve the environment in the Addyston, Ohio area," said Bharat Mathur, the EPA Region 5 Acting Regional Administrator.
Under the agreement filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio, INEOS, the current owner and operator of the Addyston Facility, has agreed to upgrade environmental controls and make multiple modifications of its operating procedures including:
- Operating its flare in accordance with specific new parameters to ensure control of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which include hazardous air pollutants, in accordance with its flare control efficiency permit requirements;
- Installing a new biofilter system in the wastewater treatment system to reduce acrylonitrile emissions, a hazardous air pollutant;
- Conducting a comprehensive review of compliance with emergency release reporting regulations;
- Implementing a comprehensive set of leak detection and repair (LDAR) practices that go beyond regulatory requirements.
The LDAR practices agreed to in the settlement include an innovative program to replace valves with new "low leak" valve technology and to monitor and repair equipment that is leaking at a lower rate than required by regulations, thereby reducing fugitive emissions from leaks.
EPA estimates that the settlement will reduce multiple harmful emissions from the facility’s historical operations including 360 tons of butadiene emissions per year from the flare controls, one ton of acrylonitrile emissions per year from the biofilter project and 60 tons per year in hazardous air pollutants from the enhanced LDAR program. Since the company was notified of its violations, they have implemented a series of emissions reduction projects to reduce these emissions.
EPA classifies acrylonitrile as a probable human carcinogen and butadiene as a known human carcinogen by inhalation. Some of the effects associated with short-term inhalation exposure to acrylonitrile and butadiene are similar and include irritation of the eyes, skin and respiratory tract and central nervous system effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and nausea. In addition, VOCs contribute to the formation of ozone. Ozone has been shown to be responsible for the reduction of lung function, respiratory symptoms, and increased lung inflammation. Ozone also causes damage to forests and crops, fabric, and exterior coatings such as oil and acrylic latex, oil coatings and automotive finishes.
According to the complaint filed simultaneously with the consent decree, the Addyston Facility allegedly violated the Clean Air Act’s requirements for monitoring and repairing leaks of hazardous air pollutants, and emitted hazardous air pollutants on more than 30 occasions in excess of the legal limits. The facility also failed to comply with requirements relating to the flare, which controls emissions of butadiene, a hazardous air pollutant, by repeatedly failing to meet a 99 percent control efficiency and minimum heat content requirement required by its permits. LANXESS also failed to immediately report releases of hazardous substances to proper federal, state and local emergency response authorities.
The consent decree, lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.